Gay marriage: North Carolina official resigns

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Posted: Oct 16, 2014 7:48 PM
Gay marriage: North Carolina official resigns

A North Carolina official resigned Thursday rather than perform gay marriages, an individual stand that comes as fewer and fewer states are holding on to oppose same-sex unions.

Triggered by a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week, lower courts across the nation have moved to strike down gay marriage bans. Among the holdouts are conservative states such as Arizona and Wyoming, and their defiance comes against a tide of rulings that give hope to those who want to see same-sex unions legalized in every state.

The North Carolina magistrate who quit his job said performing gay marriages would violate his religious beliefs. Here are some other recent developments:

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ALASKA

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked gay marriage in Alaska while the state asks the U.S. Supreme Court to restore its ban.

Unless the high court acts, the temporary stay imposed by the federal appeals court for the West will dissolve Friday afternoon, allowing gay marriages to go forward.

A District Court judge struck down Alaska's 15-year-old gay marriage ban, which helped spark the national debate, saying Sunday that it violated protections of the U.S. Constitution that guarantee due process and equal protection under the law. Gay couples began applying for marriage certificates Monday, beginning a three-day clock to when ceremonies could be held. Some couples, however, received waivers and have already married.

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ARIZONA

State lawyers have argued that a District Court judge should uphold Arizona's gay marriage ban because the West's federal appeals court hasn't issued a blanket mandate that would legalize same-sex unions across the region.

Thursday's filing starts the clock on a court ruling that many expect will soon lead to same-sex marriages in Arizona.

A District Court judge is considering two cases that seek to make gay marriage legal in the state and has said it's likely that last week's 9th Circuit Court ruling that struck down gay marriage bans elsewhere in the region means Arizona's ban — approved by lawmakers in 1996 and added to the Arizona Constitution by voters in 2008 — also will fall.

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NORTH CAROLINA

A county magistrate has resigned a day after North Carolina officials were warned that refusal to perform gay marriages could lead to their being suspended or fired.

The memo said state magistrates who refuse to marry same-sex couples are violating their sworn oaths, but Rockingham County Magistrate John Kallam Jr. said Thursday that when he took the oath, he didn't know he'd be required to perform gay marriages.

The state directive came after a county official refused to marry two men, citing religious objections, and others followed. A federal judge last week struck down North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban.

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WYOMING

A District Judge says he will rule by Monday on a lawsuit filed by four same-sex couples seeking to force the state to allow gay marriage in response to a federal court ruling that applies to Wyoming.

Wyoming is among the most conservative states in the nation with Republicans holding all three of its congressional seats, all five statewide elected offices and the vast majority of its state legislative seats.

Citing the Supreme Court decision, advocates for gay marriage in Wyoming say the state should immediately cease enforcing a law that defines marriage as between a man and woman only. But Wyoming county clerks have been unwilling to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples until they hear definitively that they can do so.